Here at Nonlinear Dynamics, we like a challenge. So when John Renney, our Business Analyst, suggested that we cycle across Britain for charity, hands went up to volunteer!
Volunteering is central to the charity that John supports: the Tony Blair Sports Foundation (TBSF) who train adult volunteers to become sports coaches in North East schools. Amazingly, it takes only £250 to train one coach, so each of us taking part aimed to raise that amount ourselves.
After months of preparation, we assembled at Whitehaven on the Cumbrian coast, dipping our wheels into the Irish Sea as is customary on the sea to sea route, before setting off in the sunshine with the wind behind us.
Day 1 was spectacular, with breath-taking views of the English Lake District. It was a treat of a cycle ride and, despite a few of us making some wrong turns, we all made it to our stopping point for the night at Troutbeck in time for dinner.
The next day was the toughest with terrible weather, having to cycle across the Pennines into a head-wind through fog and rain – conditions were tough, but we were tougher! We had a much needed lunch at Hartside Top, England’s highest café, renowned for its views (when it is not shrouded in mist).
Then followed further descents and ascents that reminded us of mass spec peaks!
There was much joy when, dropping down out of the mist, we could see our TBSF support team in their white van, marking the end of day 2 – the hardest part was done 🙂 The huge lasagne at The Red Brick Barn in Rookhope revived us nicely and was finished for breakfast the next day by one of our teammates who has a more unusual morning palate.
We were informed by John that, after a short, steep ascent on Day 3, it was “downhill all the way” – a statement treated with slight scepticism from the team. Well, that ascent was tough, with more rain, head-wind and mist; even the first descent to Parkhead station café required pedalling downhill in the lowest gears. John did speak the truth though: it really was downhill for miles and miles and we arrived in Tynemouth, dipping our wheels into the North Sea, once again in sunshine.
The trip was a wonderful experience; it brought out real teamwork and kindness and John was a humorous leader who kept our spirits up. We had excellent support from the team at TBSF and enjoyed cycling alongside our friends at TotalLab too. We’re waiting to hear how much we raised — donations are still coming in — but hopefully we’ll reach our target, if not exceed it.
Now we need a new challenge! Suggestions welcome 🙂